ASX Gender Scorecard 2014

Here at Optimice our interest in ASX board members has mostly been about mapping the board room connections, and some of this has previously been covered by Women’s Agenda and Crikey.  However, since it is International Women’s Day on 8 March 2014, we wanted to focus on something different – interesting findings that are not entirely about connectivity.

In our most recent analysis of more than 9,000 ASX board directors, we have uncovered some other facts regarding gender diversity, which we hope you will also find interesting:

  1. Board positions and gender 
  2. The age distribution and differences
  3. Gender diversity by industry sector
All of the data we base these findings on was sourced from Thomson Reuters and extracted on 28 February 2014.

#1: Chairmen and Chairwomen

If, next time you meet a female board director, you ask them, “Are you are a non-executive board member?”, then the answer is probably yes. 80% of these women are non-executive directors. If the answer you get is “No actually. I am the Chair”, then you have met someone very special. Just  4% of the female ASX directors are Chair(wo)men. 

ASX Gender Diversity by Position

When we look at the overall gender distribution among Chairmen (or even Deputy Chairmen), the women have less than 3% of the positions, and the men have more than 97%.

#2 – Older men and younger women

We have also compared the age distribution among male and female ASX directors, and there is quite a substantial difference. The women have a number of spikes in the 49-55 age group, while it is pretty clear that the men hang around a lot longer:

ASX Directors Age Profiles 2014

#3: Banks and Insurance are for girls – paper for boys
When we read about the percentage of women on ASX boards it is often represented by a single percentage number, and typically only the ASX200 companies are included. However, when we look at the entire ASX by industry sectors, we start to see some revealing details and interesting patterns.

As far as the overall board gender diversity is concerned, the banks are taking the pole position. The paper sector comes in at an unenviable last place, but since the sector is only made up of 3 companies they could easily get much better representation with just a few female appointments.

ASX Gender Diversity by Sector 2014
In the second last place we find the mining industry, and it is here the real challenge lies if we are to really change ASX board room gender diversity. While you could argue that there are more women on mining boards than in any other industry (the 3.81% represents more than 100 women), the problem is that it doesn’t really make a dent in the overall percentage because there are more than 3,000 men (96.19%). 

The big question is therefore what can be done to get (a lot more) women on mining boards.

And while we’re thinking about that, we might as well start thinking about why there are so few chairwomen and what can be done to improve that as well. Here at Optimice we don’t have the answers, but we will keep monitoring this space and hope we can inject some motivation for change by publishing these statistics. 

Last point – if you are a board member for an ASX listed company and would like to know how your board’s gender diversity percentage stacks up against your industry peers, or you’re interested in finding out how your board is connected to other board through overlapping directorships, just send us an email and we’ll let you know.